U.S. Immigration System Shouldn’t Encourage Child Marriage
Last month, a report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs revealed how a loophole in our immigration system had been exploited thousands of times to facilitate child marriage.
Yesterday, Senators Ernst, Johnson and Cotton introduced legislation to restrict the use of spousal and fiancé immigration benefits to those over age 18.
This should receive overwhelming bipartisan support. The children involved in these child marriages are almost always female and are often marrying men decades older. Child marriages are overwhelmingly forced marriages, and cause girls lasting harm.
That’s why everyone from the United Nations to the AHA Foundation to Beyoncé has called for the world to united to end this practice. As Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of United Nation’s Population Fund put it:
Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects… A girl who is married as a child is one whose potential will not be fulfilled. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriage.
Since the United States is one of those communities that wants the best for the world’s daughters, Congress should do its part to end child marriage by changing the immigration laws that enable and encourage it.